Angkor Wat is the largest religious structure in the world, covering over 401 acres. Many of the temples remain beautifully preserved, others have undergone extensive restoration work and some remain ruins reclaimed by nature.
The temples are completely covered in the most incredible and detailed stone carvings i’ve ever seen. Some carvings were much more in tact than others, being less weathered by the elements or by the tree’s growing in and around the temples. Many of them depict images of the Khmer empire at war, picturing soldiers, elephants and horses in their battle wear passing through thick jungle.
It gives a beautiful indication of just how old these ruins are by the colossal trees that are growing in and around them.
20km south of Angkor Wat I discovered a small workshop with a group of young carvers, who were producing huge replica panels, showing scenes of their ancestors heading off to war on top huge elephants.
The panels were extremely heavy and took at least two if not three people to lift. As you can see the woodcarvings copy and emulate those seen in the temples of Angkor Wat. The two young carvers below were incredibly enthusiastic about their craft and more than happy to give me a demonstration of their skills.
It was hugely inspiring to visit Angkor Wat and helped me to understand Cambodian woodcarving in a whole new light.